KAPPA MU EPSILON (KME) is a specialized honor society in Mathematics. The national organization was founded in 1931 to promote the interest of mathematics among undergraduate students. KME chapters are located in colleges and universities of recognized standing which offer a strong degree program in mathematics. The chapters' members are selected from students of mathematics and other closely related fields who have maintained standards of scholarship, have professional merit, and have attained academic distinction. Both men and women are eligible for membership.
The Colorado Beta Chapter of Kappa Mu Epsilon was officially started at Colorado School of Mines on March 4, 1971. Since that time over 500 Mines students have been honored as members of the Mines KME chapter.
In 2009, the members of KME voted to allow joint meetings with newly formed chapter of SIAM. This allowed the 2 organizations to share their passion for mathematics. So as not to detract from the mission unique to KME, this organization continues to recognize and honor the achievements in academic excellence in mathematics made by the students of Colorado School of Mines.
The rapid growth of universities and colleges in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century led to the development of professional societies in every field. The fields of law, medicine, science, engineering, teaching, and others developed societies with memberships numbering into the thousands. Local clubs were formed at larger educational institutions to promote interest in special departmental objectives. Desire for affiliation with other groups of similar ideals led to the organization of these local clubs into national and state societies. In mathematics, Pi Mu Epsilon became the national fraternity for instructors and advanced students who were in educational institutions offering graduate work in mathematics. The first fraternities open to mathematics students on the undergraduate level seem to have been primarily science fraternities. These organizations did not appeal very strongly to those whose interest was in symbolic thinking.
The need for a national mathematics fraternity which would appeal essentially to the undergraduate was recognized by both the instructors and students of mathematics. Dr. Emily Kathryn Wyant is considered the founder of Kappa Mu Epsilon, which was organized to fill this need. Dr. Wyant was a graduate of the University of Missouri and was a member of Pi Mu Epsilon. In the fall of 1930, she went to Northeastern Oklahoma State Teachers College at Tahlequah, as a professor of mathematics. She went to work with vigor and enthusiasm to transform the mathematics club there, which had been in existence since 1927, into the first chapter of a national fraternity. Professor L.P. Woods, who was head of the Department of Mathematics and Dean of Men, was a valuable co-worker in working out the many details pertaining to the project. He was largely responsible for the completed rituals used for the initiation of members and installation of officers.
Since the first serious group of students of mathematics to be organized into a fraternity was the Society of Pythagoras, it was decided that the emblems of Kappa Mu Epsilon would be those of the Pythagoreans as nearly as possible. The emblems chosen for the new fraternity were the five-pointed star and the pentagon. Since the five- leaved rose, rho = a *sin 5 theta, fits into the pentagon, the wild rose which usually has five petals was chosen as the fraternity flower. The pink of the wild rose and the silver of the star were chosen for the colors. In making the crest, it seemed advisable that the sciences using mathematics should be recognized, so five emblems were selected for these and placed around the star on the shield. The motto, translated into English, is "Develop an appreciation for the beauty in mathematics." The objective of the organization since its inception has been the fulfillment of this motto.
Dr. Wyant and Prof. L.P. Woods along with 22 other faculty and students became charter members of Oklahoma Alpha, Northeastern Oklahoma State Teachers College, Tahlequah, April 18, 1931, thereby making the dream for the fraternity a reality. On the same day, the national organization elected the following officers: President Pythagoras, Dr. Kathryn Wyant; Vice-President Euclid, Professor Ira S. Condit, Secretary Diophantus, Miss Lorene Davis; Treasurer Newton, Professor L.P. Woods; Historian Hypatia, Miss Bethel DeLay. At a later date, the names of specific mathematicians were omitted from the names of national officers.